Exemption – Part Three

“What qualities do you feel that you could you bring to our customer service team Mr. Macleod?” asked the guy. The guy with the job I apparently aspired to having. I tried to think about what a ‘Customer Services Agent’ should be. All I could think about was John sitting on his couch, watching Richard and Judy, the money rolling into the bank.

“Ehhh, well, I think that given my experience in the bar trade I would be able to eh deal with any problems that customers would have.”

I thought about what I just said. It sounded shit, botched together. He just nodded. There was a moment of silence. I could tell he wanted me to say more. I didn’t have any more to say.

“Would you like to tell me about some of the problems you resolved on the bar?”

I thought about what it was appropriate for me to say.

‘I helped this guy once who really needed a drink because he was an alcoholic. It seemed like a life or death decision.’

‘This really attractive girl came in with no money and asked for a shot of tequila. I gave it to her for free. She was very satisfied with her customer service experience.’  

‘I helped myself to a drink behind the bar, thus appointing myself as a customer and as a customer services advisor. Both parties concluded that it was a satisfying customer service experience.’

I looked up at the strip lighting. I couldn’t think of anything. I had to say something.

“I had to deal with customers complaining about various things on a day to day basis.”

“Such as?” he said, looking up from his clipboard.

“Incorrect orders. Incorrect change. Incorrect eh…” I said the last ‘incorrect’ without having anything else to say, “stuff. In general.”

He looked at me, inviting me to continue. I had nothing more to say. I looked over his shoulder, through the glass door at the people with their headsets on. They all sat in perfect rows. I saw a couple of guys with their heads in their hands. I could feel him looking at me looking. He knew what I saw over his shoulder.

“So let me tell you a little about the wage structure here.”

“Okay” I said, looking back at him.  

“It’s about £11,000 per year, before tax. There are a lot of opportunities for overtime, so, if you want to, you can earn a lot more than that.”


I thought about overtime in that place. I shuddered.


“You will work three or four 10-12 hour shifts per week. Our employees prefer having three or four days off per week.”


“Twelve hour shifts?” I asked.


“Ten to twelve hour shifts” he corrected me, as if it made a big difference.


I thought about John. While I would be sitting chained by a headset to my desk, listening to people blaming me because their digital TV doesn’t work properly, he would be smoking weed, playing the Xbox and earning almost twice as much as me. I wished I had M.E.




“Do you think you’ll be up to this?” he asked, raising an eyebrow.


I thought for a second. I looked at the guy I was supposed to aspire to be. I looked at my reflection in the window to the side, wearing a suit and tie. I looked through the glass door at the people sitting in a row. I looked back to the guy sitting in front of me.


“Yes. Of course.”


“Great. We’ll let you know within the next forty-eight hours Mr. Macleod.”

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5 thoughts on “Exemption – Part Three

  1. rynnasaryonnah says:

    Hiya Ross! This is totally unrelated to your post, sorry, but I hope you’ll have a look at http://rynnasaryonnah.wordpress.com/#wpcom-carousel-264

    Would mean a lot to me! Thank you. And I hope you like it. =D

    • I’m not really sure what to say to this! It’s very flattering and you’ve obviously got some skill in you hands. I think that your drawings of the other guy are better, but I would say that.

  2. Tjc says:

    Hi Ross,

    I came to your blog from your video about Facebook. The video touched my soul a bit, it really is such a beautiful way that you got your words across. Your writing here too is inspiring and wonderful but when i read this story my heart sunk.. It’s as brilliant as all the others, but please don’t mock ME. It’s so very, very real.. I’m completely bedbound, lying in a darkened room and tubefed with it, as i have been for the last 4 years.. Your writing is beautiful and joyous to me but please don’t belittle disability. Thank you for reading x

    • Firstly, thanks for getting in touch and letting me know that you enjoyed the video and the writing on here. That really means a lot to me.

      I’m sorry if the words came across in the wrong way or made me sound in any way cold or insulting. Those really weren’t my intentions. I knew someone once who bragged about being diagnosed with ME in order to get on disability benefit. I guess it was a reference to that more than anything else. The story was about people exploiting the welfare state without giving a thought to those who really need it.

      I’m sorry if I caused any offence. I really am. I hope that things work out for you TJC and that you get better soon.

      All the best

      Ross x

      • Tjc says:

        Hi Ross,

        Thanks for your response. Its good to know you didn’t mean it in an offensive way 🙂 it’s just such a vogue at the moment to mock the illness I felt I had to say something. I’m so sad you knew someone who faked it, some people will do anything for attention! The reality is that although it is quite easy to fake being ‘knackered’ for a bit, the truth to ME is so much different and horrifying, with a lot of people living in nothing short of poverty because it’s actually really hard to get disability benefit.

        Anyway, I didn’t mean to jump on you like an ME militant 😉 it just upset me to see a reference like that amongst what is, truly, fantastic writing. I’ll be continuing to read and enjoy your work, thank you for sharing it with the world x

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